NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet has written to union members saying it is vital that newspaper bosses are not allowed to dominate the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics and behaviour which opened today.
Stainstreet says: "Newspaper groups are putting significant resources into the Inquiry, with extensive legal teams, ironically at a time when many of the same groups are slashing jobs and making budget cuts across their titles.
"It is vital that the newspaper bosses are not allowed to dominate this inquiry and that the concerns, experiences and views of ordinary working journalists are placed firmly at its heart. To do that we need your help."
She has promised to give anonymity to any journalists who want to speak out about how they were put under pressure or bullied to deliver stories.
Stanistreet writes: "We want to be able to put the perspectives of members working at the sharp end - and not just in national titles, but also in the regional and local press, which has been largely ignored in the introductory sessions of the Inquiry to date.
"It is clear that it is impossible for the vast majority of journalists to be able publicly to state their views and experience at an Inquiry, without jeopardising their current or future employment within the industry. It is also clear that currently it is precisely this perspective that is currently lacking in the Inquiry.
"To that end, the NUJ is asking for members to come forward and share their experiences - whether it's on journalistic practices, your experience of how matters ethical are handled in your current or previous workplace, about how your working culture could be improved or problems you've had to deal with that you feel the Leveson Inquiry should consider. Please get in touch with me.
"I will be dealing with all queries personally and in complete confidence. We can speak on the phone or face to face. Some members have already made contact with us and have given testimony that will be put to the Inquiry anonymously, through the NUJ."
The NUJ has long campaigned for the introduction of a Conscience Clause in law, in order that journalists who take a stand against their employer on an ethical issue have protection against being dismissed.
Stainstreet says the NUJ also wants to make the links at the Inquiry between collective union representation and the ability for journalists to speak out on issues of ethics.
NUJ members are asked to email their experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pic: Michelle Stanistreet (Jon Slattery)